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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3264


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:09): My question is to the Prime Minister. How will the budget help keep the economy strong and ensure all Australians benefit by promoting fairness and opportunity?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:10): I thank the member for Parramatta for her question and for her continued focus on the interests of her constituents. As a former small business person in this parliament, she is very focused on her local economy, jobs and opportunity. I can reassure her and say to the whole parliament that the budget we delivered last night is focused on building a stronger, fairer and smarter Australia.

By stronger, of course, I mean a strengthening economy. We have avoided recession. We have avoided the worst of the global financial crisis. If you compare our nation with the United States and nations in Europe, unlike those nations, we kept people in jobs. We kept people working; we focused on jobs. We focused on growth, which is why our economy is 13 per cent bigger now, and we are able to point to more than 950,000 jobs created during some of the worst economic times that the world has ever seen—the worst economic event since the Great Depression. We are a country AAA credit rated by all three major ratings agencies—only one of eight countries to be so and something not achieved under the former government.

In the budget we have laid out a plan to keep strengthening our economy—a sustainable path to surplus, investing in the infrastructure we need for the future; $24 billion for the next wave of infrastructure and Labor's National Broadband Network, which is the only real way of getting fibre where it is needed, to homes and businesses. At the same time we are ensuring that we are a smarter country for the future. I want every Australian child to realise their full opportunity. That is right for our children and it is right for our nation's future. We cannot be a strong nation in the future, with high-skill, high-wage jobs, unless we invest in our schools and get our kids a world-class education. In this budget we properly fund this for the next 10 years.

In this budget not only are we giving hope to schoolchildren; we are giving hope to Australians with disabilities, their families and their carers by showing the way in which DisabilityCare can be fully funded over the next 10 years. We have made these choices which show our values—what we believe needs to be delivered for the Australian people. They have not always been easy choices, but they are the right choices to build the future that Australians deserve.

Budgets are about choices. They are about laying out what you believe in front of the Australian people. The government did that last night; the opposition will have its opportunity to do so tomorrow night.